This February half-term award-winning arts charity Create worked with young carers from Richmond to make large scale willow sculptures that will be displayed at Strawberry Hill House throughout the summer season.
Part of Create’s inspired:arts programme, the project offered children aged 7-11 who attend Richmond Carers Centre a creative, collaborative, social outlet away from their caring responsibilities. The young carers collaborated with Create’s professional artist Sheridan Quigley to design and make the sculptures.
The half term period – and school holidays more generally – can be a difficult time for young carers. For many, without school’s daily routine, increased time at home equates to an increase in time caring for a relative. The Department of Education’s February 2016 Report ‘The Lives of Young Carers in England’ states that “holidays were particularly challenging for most young carers due to an increase in their caring responsibilities at home and the lack of opportunity to take breaks to engage in other activities both inside and outside the home.” The research demonstrated how “breaks from caring were seen positively by young carers as opportunities to relax and de-stress, enabling them to return to caring responsibilities feeling refreshed. Young carers who had experience of young carers projects, outings and respite holidays were typically very positive about such opportunities to take a break away from home and to meet others in similar situations.”
Create’s inspired:arts programme develops a space in which both creative and social skills can be nurtured and young carers are able to come together to channel their creativity collectively. By working together the young people develop their communication skills, build confidence and create peer-support networks.
Sam*, a young carer who took part in the project, said: “After completing the sculpture, I feel quite thrilled. It’s quite amazing because it’s going to be around for the whole year and people are going to look at it. Working with Sheridan, the artist, was nice because she included everyone and would listen to people’s ideas and try to fit things in.
“My life is different from other children’s because of the family I live in and some of the issues that we have. A lot of the time my dad is sick and he can’t come out of bed and has aches and pains. The other children made me feel really welcome and happy. Projects like this can help you develop skills, like making new friends, which can be hard for some people.”
Create’s Co-Founder & Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, commented, “Participating in creative activities is a great way of expressing yourself and socialising. School holidays can be a period of heightened responsibility for young carers and it’s important for wellbeing that respite is found away from their duties as carers. Our inspired:arts projects offer an environment for self-expression, socialising, building confidence and having fun; and the sculptures at Strawberry Hill House look awesome!”
You can find out more about Create’s work at www.createarts.org.uk
Create’s work with young carers has been the subject of an award-winning animation produced by Bournemouth University film students, as winners of the Kingston Smith 2016 Creative Vision awards:
*Sam’s name has been changed